There has been significant online discussion surrounding an attempted extortion incident involving Nigerian police officers, caught on camera and subsequently leading to their dismissal. Dutch motorcyclist Noraly, known as “Itchy Boots” on YouTube and TikTok, documented the encounter during her journey through Africa.
As she traveled to Abuja, Nigeria, Noraly encountered multiple checkpoints, with one in particular gaining attention due to viral videos. The footage captured a conversation between Noraly and a police officer, wherein the officer demanded money, prompting a refusal from Noraly. The incident sparked diverse online reactions, with some dismissing it as a joke while others expressed embarrassment at the perceived behavior of Nigerian police.There was one checkpoint in particular that has spawned some viral videos.
Despite varying opinions, the officers involved were publicly fired by their superiors. In a video, their police uniforms were removed, and they were publicly shamed for the attempted extortion. The decision to dismiss the officers has sparked a debate on social media.
I have personally experienced extortion attempts in Nigeria. I’ve been there half a dozen times, and the routine is always the same. I’ve been checked at least three times in the arrival hall at the airport by staff who want to inspect my passport, open my luggage, and take a look around. They always ask me to give them something. I just shake my head no, they close my luggage, and I’m on my way until, 5 feet later, the same scenario plays out. I never give them anything, and they never detain me, but it does happen with high frequency regardless of the time of the year and date of arrival. With that being said, once I pass through security and leave the airport, I have not encountered these attempts during my stays in Lagos, Calabar, and Abuja.
A commenter provides a nuanced perspective, acknowledging the ethical issues but also highlighting the challenging conditions in which some police officers work. The comment emphasizes the need for a broader conversation on the conditions of service for Nigerian police and the potential consequences of disgruntled officers.
1. It is ethically wrong for the police men to ask for money. However, if you assess the conditions under which some these men and women work, you would really pity them and realize that justice has not been served. These men have to buy their uniforms, fuel and repair their patrol vehicles, sometimes repair their guns and buy their ammunition. It’s really a bigger conversation on the condition of service of the Nigerian police men and women. Some even have to make returns to their superiors. It’s common knowledge that the money they get on the streets goes to their superiors in the office. Not to talk of their living conditions.
2. Having listed their working and living conditions above, these men are likely to be disgruntled, and rightly so. It’s not unheard of for sacked police men in Nigeria to form robbery gangs. Some have been caught in the past. So this becomes a danger to the society.
3. The Nigerian police and police all over the world behave like a fraternity. Acting on @itchyboots experience should have been done in such a way to protect other travellers and bikers who are documenting their experience. Knowing that their colleague has been sacked based on these videos, I expect the other members of the police to sit up but I also won’t be surprised if their animosity towards innocent travellers is escalated by this event. In the end, the public is no better for it.
4. Finally I love itchyboots and what she is doing inspires me profoundly. As one living outside Nigeria, I’m proud of the everyday Nigerian people I see in her videos who are generally helpful and also the beautiful parts of my country I have not seen. This is a cause worthy of emulation and I’m inspired to ride across my country at some point. However, if she came to Nigeria to tell us our police are corrupt, then it’s an exercise in futility. We know much more than she can reveal in the entire video series. I believe that Expositions such as these ones showing “corrupt police” should be reported discretely through the proper channels for her sake and especially for the sake of the average Nigerian/traveller who may receive the blowback effect.
Finally, I feel sad for these men. My kit and kin went on the streets to protest police brutality and lives were lost. So i know it’s easy to say they deserved their sacking and whatever comes after. But the truth is these men are victims of the bigger corruption we face in Nigeria. It is possible that those who passed judgement on them are even bigger beneficiaries of the corrupt system. No justice has been served here, just another family denied their means of the daily scraps of bread that was keeping them going. They were fired to save face but if truly they cared, they would have taken them for re-orientation, trainings, even suspension.
After watching the videos, what do you think of the decision to dismiss the officers?